Whore of Babylon

Written by Azaria Frost
Review by Nicky Galliers

We meet Eliana some months after the Babylonians have conquered her city of Nippur. Her sister is on the eve of marrying the conquering Prince Samsu, a cruel, vicious but intelligent warrior and heir to the throne of Babylon. When Eliana attempts to sneak into Samsu’s newly completed Red Palace to find her sister, she is caught, and that one act alters the course of her life.

The romance in this novel is very much secondary to the coming-of-age story of Eliana. It reads more as a survival handbook and a lesson in resilience for those caught under the power of an absolute monarch for whom human kindness does not exist. It is not the story you are anticipating when Eliana enters the palace, and some of it makes for difficult reading – if you are squeamish, this is not for you. But hats off to Ms Frost for finding a story that does not go where you expect.

What Ms Frost is best at is creating a tension between the protagonists that makes you fear to turn the page. She does slightly run out of steam at the end, but one can forgive her for wanting to tie up the loose ends. There are a few typos, and the epilogue was superfluous – with a good editor to guide these first novel errors, I think we could be looking at a potentially good author.

The novel is outside my usual choice of reading but I found it intriguing. If you want a love story that is a change from the ordinary, and reveals the worst of human nature as well as the best, give this a go.

E-edition reviewed